Identifying predators at northern bobwhite nests.
We identified nest predators of northern bobwhites (Colinus virginianus) on private lands in northern Florida and southern Georgia, USA, using continuous infrared micro-video cameras, 1999-2001, and compared these results to predictions based on diagnostic sign at nests. Mammals (59%), snakes (29%), and ants (12%) accounted for known bobwhite nest depredations. Mammalian predators, in order of importance, were the raccoon (Procyon lotor), nine-banded armadillo (Dasypus novemcinctus), Virginia opossum (Didelphis virginiana), bobcat (Lynx rufus), hispid cotton rat (Sigmodon hispidus), and coyote (Canis latrans). Using diagnostic sign, technicians correctly classified 30% of mammalian depredations to species and overestimated nest depredations by snakes. A classification tree model correctly classified 75% of the test sample (n=33) into "mammal" or "snake" categories, but still overestimated depredations by snakes. We documented a broader predator community upon bobwhite eggs than previously known for northern Florida and southern Georgia and confirmed that snakes were significant nest predators in some years. We conclude that diagnostic sign at depredated nests was unreliable for identifying nest predators of northern bobwhites.